The experience here in New Orleans has been really amazing! I have been loving and really appreciating every moment of it. Even though at times there is a longing for ‘TDOT’ and all the goodness that comes with it, I have really learned a lot and connected with a lot of new people who I have never met before even though most of us attend the same school. Its amazing to see how all of us worked together with a vision of helping families to rebuild their lives by rebuilding their houses as well as the community. I have really developed and grasped a better understanding of New Orleans and its strong culture which in my opinion is rooted in family and culture.

The first few days being here were the hardest to adjust to as living with so many different people with different personalities becomes challenging after a time. I have seen myself grow from the first day I arrived to now. Many of the things that mattered to me before have become simple minute hurdles that are so easy to overcome. It is soooooo hot down here!!!! Adjusting to weather was probably one of the biggest hurdles seeing that I left home wearing warm clothing and suddenly adjusting to the heat. However I quickly came to the conclusion that only the experience and everything else was for the people of New Orleans. I quickly decided to put away all selfish attributes and just live each day with the understanding that someone’s life is being greatly impacted as a result of my hard labour.

Getting to know the city and the people here is probably one of the greatest experiences of all time. Understanding the culture from a different perspective was quite touching. Having an absolute stranger welcome you into their house with a warm heart and genuinely caring about you was probably another huge highlight for my first week as well. I guess that is a true definition of southern hospitality. Seeing and hearing someone express overwhelming and sincere gratitude for the work that I have been doing on their house was probably the most touching as well as motivating thing that I have experienced on the trip. It made me push myself the extra mile to make sure that the dry wall was done correctly. This gave me the opportunity to see the screws beyond their physical attributes and more as chains linking the walls together, the families, the communities as well as us the volunteers from all across North America. I am truly going to miss this place. Say Word!!! TORONTO TO NOLA 2010……. WHO DAT? WE DATTTTT!!!

Shantae Johns